Serving Kerr County with a Conscience

​RV Park Safety

The beginning construction of the Old River Road RV Resort presents several public safety concerns. The most urgent is the predictability of lost lives during flooding. Yes, predictable, because this RV park is located within a dangerous portion of the floodplain. The project sits at the confluence of the Guadalupe River, Turtle Creek and Nowlin’s Hollow which assures rising water during heavy rains. Whether deluges occur in Turtle Creek’s watershed to the southwest, the Guadalupe’s from the west, or Nowlin’s Hollow from north of the airport, each presents the probability of life-threatening water rises. A rain event involving any two or all three of these watersheds assures walls of water and overwhelming flooding within minutes. The view from Highway 27, just east of the airport, explains why. The site is a small, bowl-shaped valley, surrounded by hills on three sides. The remaining boundary is the river. Drainage is limited to the southeast corner along the Guadalupe’s narrow outlet. The potential volume of accumulating water is far greater than emptying capacity.

Historically, there are two landmarks on the valley’s eastern ridge, a family home and an iconic oak tree marking the site of the Welborn family cemetery. Edward Wellborn lived there as a child and recalls the 1932 flood filling the entire valley. Only the house and cemetery oak were visible above water.

Debris in cypress trees confirmed that Turtle Creek crested at 42 feet at this convergence in the 1978 flood. Photos of the Monkey Island area, adjacent to the park, show huge Cypress stumps uprooted and deposited there during flooding. A naked eye observation reveals the RV site resting on lower ground than the Cypress stumps. One Center Point resident recalls working as a young man to remove cypress trees and stumps deposited in the valley’s field during floods . . . the same field the RV Park will occupy.

In a Hill Country flood the valley will fill rapidly with turbulent floodwaters. Evacuating the planned 240 RVs and their occupants becomes a public safety issue. The only exit is the steep uphill entrance in the southeast corner at the convergence of water from Turtle Creek and the Guadalupe. How much warning is needed to avoid the chaos of a bottleneck at this exit, because it is only wide enough for one RV at a time? How many RVs will be disabled by even a few feet of water flooding into the park?

Many of those fleeing will be retirees and elderly, unable to meet the physical challenge of escaping rushing water and climbing steep hillsides. Rainwater cascading down the hillsides would only diminish their chance of survival. Will a quarry bordering the northeast corner of the Park fill with water from Nowlin’s Hollow and add to the chaos?

Any RV fortunate enough to drive out in time faces the possibility of being swept away. A right turn out of the park runs into a flooded low water bridge at Brink’s Crossing. A left turn carries an RV along the narrow River Road sandwiched between Drymala Quarry berms and the Guadalupe. A ditch draining water from the berms increases the likelihood of water washing over the road and possible washouts.

Kerr County’s Flood Plain administrator has approved a no rise certificate indicating that the RV park’s presence will not obstruct the normal flow of water during river rises. The purpose is to protect upstream property owners from back-up and higher floodwaters. Who considers the safety of the RV Park customers facing the same floodwaters, especially if a flash flood occurs at night?

Frances Lovett

blog comments powered by Disqus